Writing Process – Starting Out

A page from my writing journal with rough map at top.

A page from my writing journal with rough map at top.

Since I’m having so much trouble writing today (in other words I’m having one of those days when I can’t keep my butt in a chair in front of a blank page), I thought I’d write about my writing process.

Writing is the first thing I do in the morning. Before eating, before my gratitude list, before turning on the computer….Yes, I write longhand for the most part. I spend too much time on the computer working, which interferes with my creative process most of the time. Plus it’s so easy to get distracted. Email, games, Facebook, and I need the extra help with discipline to get started.

So I write longhand. If I’m stuck, or I’ve been away from writing for a day or two or more, or I’m trying to solve a problem I’ve created for myself, I’ll journal beforehand. Either free association (a la An Artist’s Way morning pages) or posing the question I need answered. For some reason this method always brings me a solution. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. Sometimes the solution is that I don’t have enough info to fill in this scene at this point and I need to skip ahead. I can figure that out if I go a week without getting past that sticking point. Since I’m writing in the dark (I don’t outline or have much idea where I’m going when I start) it’s usually because it’s an important point but I don’t know why yet or I’ve left something important out earlier in the draft that I need. Sometimes the story just has to progress to a certain point before I can fill everything in.

After journaling for a while I’ll write. My writing goal each day is 300 words. Most times I’ll go over that. Sometimes I won’t get anywhere near that. If I’m on a later draft I may wind up with -300 words instead. As long as I’ve sat and tried for at least an hour I give myself credit. Sometimes I write for as much as four hours before I run out of steam. The longest I ever wrote in one stretch was 8 hours.

I don’t go back and re-read or edit what I’ve written for the day, unless I’ve left the draft for a really long time and I don’t remember where I was. My first drafts are so sucky they make me really depressed and I completely forget that every first draft I’ve ever written was the same. At some point the miracle of many revisions occurs and then my final draft looks as much like the first draft as a butterfly looks like a caterpillar. Right now that’s a long way away.


One thought on “Writing Process – Starting Out

  1. Your process is solid! You’ll get there, Nicole!

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